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Weekend reflections

July 12th, 2008

It’s time once again for weekend reflections.Feel free to write at greater length than for a standard comment thread. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. BilB
    July 12th, 2008 at 20:37 | #1

    I’ll cross post this over here because I was fascinated by what was created here.

    Ever wondered what environmentally friendly selective logging would look like? Take a look�

    And if you pondered what the world would do without wheels, here is a preview

  2. Ikonoclast
    July 12th, 2008 at 22:09 | #2

    Bostone Dynamics – Big Dog Pack Robot. Looks more like a mechanical mule to me.

  3. BilB
    July 12th, 2008 at 22:36 | #3

    Thanks Ikonoclast, I have seen an earlier video of the dog (mule agreed), but that is truly amazing performance. Those guys are really earning their money. Those ice slide recoveries say it all. I have to do some research now to see what they are using for muscle.

  4. Hermit
    July 12th, 2008 at 22:53 | #4

    I think the theory of selective logging is to remove premium trees that will cut saw logs and are no longer net carbon absorbers but without damaging young trees or too much understorey. The machine looks like it will burn a lot of fuel just to cut small immature plantation softwood, not forest giants interspersed among creeks and rock outcrops. The logs also need to be quickly stacked for transfer to road trucks. On the other hand maybe we should cut down all the forest giants before they are stunted by climate change.

  5. July 13th, 2008 at 09:38 | #5

    It’s a quiet weekend. I went MCG on Friday night and thereby hangs a tale. The unlikely trio of St.Kilda, Oxford and Rome, not to mention the Crimea, turned a crowded train trip home into a strange journey. Please see blog for story.

  6. johnb
    July 13th, 2008 at 16:28 | #6

    AT SOMEBODY ELSE’S EXPENSE …!

    Wherever selfish interests exist (and to whatever degree) dissonance sets in.

    Logic is not a welcome guest whereas emotionalism is: participants begin to despise each other, and strife greed ill will hatred, even vengeance retribution and death become possible, as claimants distance themselves from each other. The greatest human failing some say, is separation: only overcome in the human persona through application of the human psyche. Clearly logic is needed to dispel glamour, to guide weigh and balance; knowledge is the essential method if harmony is to prevail. Clear purpose, clear planning and implementation are fundamental to the goal. What then has the psyche to do with a temporal problem?

    Selfishness is simply defined as ‘doing something at somebody else’s expense’.

    However relations between a coal producer, coal-fired power plant, energy consumers, the government, the economy and the environment, are complex. Within all of these human powered sectors arise both benefits and impositions, with the environment absorbing the underlying cost. It is useless to demonise one sector over another, as all are an integral part of both the problem and the solution: the interdependence extant in supply/demand has to exist before each contributes to the emissions > atmospheric warming > climate change problem. Wherever the shifting lines of real-time and projected environmental response to atmospheric warming, science, economics, environmental and social values, and government policy lie: the real issue at hand is human!

    Without human beings it would be impossible to cause this current problem, and without human beings cooperating with each other, it will be impossible to sensibly fix it.

    It is not enough to say that human beings cause global warming and climate change, and then focus externally on the fixes. Along the way we must also ask what is it in human beings that has allowed this problem to develop, and why there is so much difficulty in recognising, accepting and dealing with it.

    SELFLESSNESS is the blow-torch (take it as minimally the opposite of selfishness as defined above) I would like to see applied to the discussion as there is no getting around selfishness is the greatest barrier. Many people may not understand the often competing logical arguments applied from multiple viewpoints to the atmospheric warming problem, but everybody understands selfishness quite easily. Even little kids have a sense of justice! And I do not know of any other anti-dote to selfishness than selflessness.

    This where the psyche comes in. Selflessness is not conceptual; it is not a particular framework and infill of thought – that comes later as an effect. The origin of selflessness is in the heart, and manifests as a joyful peace within, arising as a genuine heart felt wave of anything from generosity, kindness, compassion, empathy, justice, equity, dignity, responsibility – to something without – and often involves an element of sacrifice. It cannot be worn on the face without being felt. It cannot be manufactured. The mind is stilled and concentrated under its influence – ego is seen as the vapour that it in fact is. Selflessness embraces that which is not the Self and wills it the same peace and prosperity that it finds within itself. The psyche is in my view, the richest resource people possess.

    Therein lies the great opportunity and division in consciousness human beings battle with: the power of a heart felt morality v. selfishness to put it simply; either coupled with the same intelligence. Perhaps profit may be the priority of some of the nations CEO’s, but debate in our society about values: the ascendance of individual, social and environmental values over profit prevails – struggling to redefine prosperity.

    Therefore, in the nation of the ‘fair-go’ why not bring this value to the ascendant in the debate?

  7. July 13th, 2008 at 18:10 | #7

    I managed to get a letter into Friday’s AFR (11.7.08), once again attempting to alert the world to Professor Kim Swales‘s alternative way of achieving a minimum wage, without mandating it but with suitable GST tax breaks, which would actually increase both employment and GDP rather than burdening them like mandating. However, I don’t think policy makers are interested; I tried to raise the matter with Alexander Downer, telling him how the Liberal Party still hasn’t carried out the study in the area that a State Council determination committed it to, and he wasn’t interested.

  8. Keiran
    July 13th, 2008 at 19:00 | #8

    Johnb says “Wherever selfish interests exist (and to whatever degree) dissonance sets in.”

    Richard Feynman says “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

    I’ve always seen the bigbang universe nonsense and this alarmist AGW* as a paradox. We can only find paradoxes in the human mind and never in the natural world because it simply sees our mind separate from our biology. Here with alarmist AGW we see a particularly virulent form of mind virus cunningly designed, totally selfish, anthropocentric, highly manipulative and troubled with wild apocalyptic/messianic visions.

    Just as there is no way everything can be created from nothing …. and as if “nothing� could exist too, with alarmist AGW we should know that it has no chance of even getting past its first assumption of catastrophic warming because of earth’s one-way cooling bias. Its second assumption of depleting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is a bizarre, anti life bias with no hope of success.

    * AL-AGW = alarmist AGW which is based on Algorian science

  9. jquiggin
    July 13th, 2008 at 20:54 | #9

    PML, I saw your letter

    Keiran, I take it you’re humorously equating AGW delusionism with some form of creationism. If so, spot on!

    But if you’re seriously advocating one or both, can I suggest that contributing to Conservapedia might be a better use of your (and our) time than commenting here.

  10. Peter
    July 13th, 2008 at 22:51 | #10

    Australia has just one major school of government(Crawford School of Govt at ANU). With increasing globalization there is a need for more such schools conducting research in International Economics(WTO, Globalization etc..), Public Policy, International Affairs, Government and Poverty. More of such schools in Australia would also be instrumental in training people from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, East Timor, PNG etc..

    UQ conducts research in some of the areas mentioned above but its focus is much narrow as the research is mainly focused on Political Science and International Security.

  11. July 13th, 2008 at 23:32 | #11

    Keiran:

    As Studs Terkel says, “I like quoting Einstein. Know why? Because nobody dares contradict you.”

    Of course, now that I’ve invoked Einstein, I’m now going to embark on a diatribe which has nothing to do with whatever I just quoted or even whatever Einstein or Terkel has said.

    By the way, is my credibility heightened if I throw in two quotations from the greats, instead of just one? But if I throw out too many quotations too quickly, then pretty soon I’ll be running out of quotations, and it’ll be the Peak Quote Crisis. But wait! There’s a solution! I can always fake a few quotations:

    “31,000 scientists? If the IPCC were wrong, then one scientist would be enough.” — what Einstein might have said

    – bi, International Journal of Inactivism

  12. jquiggin
    July 14th, 2008 at 06:44 | #12

    Peter, have you looked at ANZSOG?

    http://www.anzsog.edu.au/

  13. jquiggin
    July 14th, 2008 at 06:55 | #13

    To give a more concrete response, PML, I’ve never been entirely clear how Swales’ idea differs in its effects from cutting payroll tax or, for something more finely targeted, earned income tax credits. Is there a good source on this?

  14. Keiran
    July 14th, 2008 at 09:27 | #14

    “humorously equating”? “creationism”? “Conservapedia”? What are you talking about mate?

    Johnb wrote a nice little piece about selfishness, self-absorption, greed, human-centredness and my point was how this corrupts science. Hardly funny ha ha. This human built in bias and mode of conceptualisation only develops an entire zoo of invented fictional entities and forces …. disconnected grandiose ideation, perhaps?

    If we are concerned about purposeful behaviour then we need to understand that all living organisms do not “respond to stimuli” but rather control input variables. It is not the stimulus-response model nor the cognitive science model because behaviour is the control of perceptions.

    AL-AGW like all mind viruses, has a disorder of perception, preferring rote learning in wrong order and simply is belief in belief for its own sake where it becomes congratulations you lazy minded mug because you have lost control of your perceptions. We should now stop being so damned respectful of this lying, superstitious, blinded worship mindset because we get no answers from this weird respect for lazy minds living in ratbaggery.

  15. Dave
    July 14th, 2008 at 11:16 | #15

    Oh god Keiran.
    Again. Scientists say smoking causes lung cancer. As a result I avoid cigarettes. Should I be skeptical? I mean, I haven’t seen it happen myself.

    No. I accept that we have scientists, who know what they are doing, and I accept their judgement here.

    The consensus for global warming is even more overwhelming than for smoking causes lung cancer. Not to mention the melting arctic.

    So, we just cant’ afford nonsense like this. We have to act on common sense and stop it before its too late. And others who feel like me have to get much more active as well: this is a real battle to save our planet.

  16. smiths
    July 14th, 2008 at 11:39 | #16

    THE Federal Government’s Future Fund and the Reserve Bank have quietly propped up the banks through the global financial turmoil of the past year, ABN-Amro economists have revealed.

    They say the two institutions provided a quarter of the massive growth in bank funding to fight off the global credit crunch.
    (story at ‘the age’)

    anyone like to defend this?

  17. David
    July 14th, 2008 at 12:12 | #17

    Actually, smiths, given the performances of the share market and the money market this year, the banks are probably a better place for the Future Fund than shares.

    I wish my superannuation fund had shown the same foresight …

  18. O6
    July 14th, 2008 at 12:40 | #18

    Keiran says, ‘there is no way everything can be created from nothing…’
    How do you know this? What is your evidence, if it’s empirical, or your proof, if it’s theoretical?
    I can’t make anything from nothing, you can’t make anything from nothing, but so what?

  19. Keiran
    July 14th, 2008 at 14:04 | #19

    Dave i don’t mind chatting with you but it seems you obviously don’t understand that behaviour is the control of perception. Whilst i’ll always consider opinions, for me it will always be show me the evidence first. Looking at smoker’s lungs is pretty good evidence. However, having a high fibre diet whilst seemingly healthy will not prevent you getting bowel cancer. That is the evidence. Lance Armstrong seven times winner of the Tour de France, seems to have beaten cancer years later. says challenge opinions, live strong and continually learn to study the evidence yourself.

    AL-AGW like all mind viruses is not based on evidence. A couple of slightly warming decades at the end of the 20thC is not evidence that overturns the vast historical understanding of climate variability. Whilst there are many opinions both ways it must always come down to the observable evidence. Instead of grovelling before scientists that can be just as venal as anyone else, you must judge what they say according to the normal criteria of observable evidence, logic, plausibility, consistency with other sets of facts etc. If you don’t, you have lost control of yourself. The question then is why should we allow vested interests try to take these vital faculties from us?

  20. Keiran
    July 14th, 2008 at 14:39 | #20

    O6 says “I can’t make anything from nothing, you can’t make anything from nothing, but so what?”

    When scientists try to create an absolute vacuum for some inexplicable reason particles appear from nowhere and it proves impossible. Likewise to produce an absolute solid is impossible because it could always be more solid. Just seems that an absolute solid and an absolute vacuum are human idealisations with reality existing somewhere between. This then draws attention to anthropocentric issues…… i.e. our human built in bias and mode of conceptualisation.

    If there can be no true vacuum then it is reasonable to conclude that the NON-existence of the universe is an impossibility. When you look at the vast expanse of endless galaxies how can anyone believe that it all came from NOTHING even if you want to believe that there is such a real idea as nothingness?

  21. wilful
    July 14th, 2008 at 15:39 | #21

    BilB, great link. However I am deeply sceptical – what is the PSI of each of those six walking pads, compared to a low pressure tyre? While in coupe snigging tracks may not be needed, the walker requires a low-loader to get to the operation site. wouldn’t be putting any money into it for quite a while yet.

    Keiran, you’re a loon. Your understanding of big bang theory appears even worse than mine. Your understanding of climate change theory is apparent: zero.

  22. Dave
    July 14th, 2008 at 17:48 | #22

    Keiren. Of course. Scientists who study stuff are all venal, and shouldn’t be believed! The artic ice isn’t melting! Cancer is all in the mind!

    Thanks Keiren.

  23. July 14th, 2008 at 18:03 | #23

    Replying to JQ’s comment:-

    - “I’ve never been entirely clear how Swales’ idea differs in its effects from cutting payroll tax” – it goes further, essentially becoming a Negative Payroll Tax. That is, cutting $1 from payroll tax is much the same as providing a $1 tax break the Swales way, only the Swales system uses levels that would amount to going negative. Rather than implementing an actual wage subsidy, tax breaks do it virtually – funds don’t have to be drawn in and then paid out, generally to the same payers. The sneaky trick is that implementation is revenue neutral because GST (or other tax) rates are raised to claw back tax breaks on the labour force already in work as at implementation, and after that it is budget neutral as labour force increases are matched to declines in social security needs. It comes out Pigovian, needing no distinct funding.

    - “or, for something more finely targeted, earned income tax credits.” That’s actually worse targeting, since those go to the actual and potential workers, while GST tax breaks have their impact/legal incidence on producers, who are much closer to the employment decision. EITC things only come through after real wages have fought their way through stickiness and have been allowed to fall, but the Swales system needs no change in real or nominal wages actually offered; much faster acting, with no outgoings until things start to work (if anything causes a delay, why, the GST take automatically stays up and there is enough around to keep carrying social security – ignoring federal/state issues just for a moment).

    - “Is there a good source on this?” I can do no better than suggest a look at the material I managed to get up at the wikipedia article on Professor Kim Swales, particularly to his submission to the EC some ten years ago which is linked there. There is quite a lot at Fax from Nowhere.

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